Continuing Coverage of Tornado Outbreaks in North Texas

Family Recalls Moment Tornado Hit

Five members of Zapata family huddled in bathtub

By Scott Gordon
|  Friday, May 17, 2013  |  Updated 1:30 PM CDT
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The Zapata family survived Wednesday night's tornado in Granbury by jumping into their bathtub.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

The Zapata family survived Wednesday night's tornado in Granbury by jumping into their bathtub.

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As the tornado roared toward their home outside Granbury Wednesday night, all five members of the Zapata family raced to the bathtub.

"I couldn't stop screaming or crying,” said 18-year-old Ana, the oldest sibling.

Ana, her parents and two brothers, Noe, 7, and Ezequiel, 12, huddled together.

But first, with seconds to spare, father Paul Zapata grabbed a mattress to cover them.

"Once I put the first mattress over them, I was like, this isn't enough,” he said.

So he dragged in a second mattress, and jumped in the tub too.

"And then we started praying,” Ana said.

They sang a prayer in Spanish.

"Dios esta aqui. Tan cierto como el aire…”

The prayer translates to: God is here, as sure as the air.

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“That's the way we calm down,” said mother Ruth Zapata. “We felt like he was right there."

And then, it happened.

"I heard glass breaking,” Ana said.

Paul Zapata said what happened next was incredible.

"Feeling the walls shake and the tub under you is feeling like it is going to lift up anytime,” Paul Zapata recalled.

"I started more crying, screaming,” Ana said.

"The mattresses felt like they were trying to leave us. But no, we  kept holding,” Ruth Zapata said.

Somehow, they held on as the twister ripped their house apart.

"And then it's over and we're okay and we're thankful that we're alive because in that moment, I thought we were goners. I thought it was going to take us.” Ruth Zapata said.

Many of their neighbors were hurt – some killed. But the Zapatas made it out of that bathtub, without a scratch.

"Thank God we're here, we're alive,” Paul Zapata said.

Now in a Red Cross shelter, with barely the clothes on their backs, they say they're overwhelmed by the support.

"Strangers have called. I'd like to thank each and every one of you all,” Paul Zapata said. “Thank you."

In an instant, one family’s lives were changed forever.

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"We're not going to forget this,” Ruth Zapata said. “We're not going to forget what God did for us in that moment. And I even told my son, my 7-year-old and 12-year-old, don't. Because God gave us another chance to live."

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